It is Christ or Chaos

Christ and Peter Walk on Water

A sermon idea based on Matthew 14:22-33.

The Big Idea

When our focus is on the chaos present in the world around us, we succumb to fear. But when we shift our focus to the ever-present, all-powerful God who always walks among us, we rise in faith.

Matthew 14:22-33 NRSV

[22] Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. [23] And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, [24] but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. [25] And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. [26] But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. [27] But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

[28] Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” [29] He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. [30] But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” [31] Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” [32] When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. [33] And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Life is a constant battle of fear versus faith. The world in which we live can become quite intimidating and if we fix our focus on the status of society, it’s so easy to slip into a sense of fatalism.

When our mental diet is a steady stream of how bad things look from the perspective of major media, social media, and even (sadly) from too many pulpits, we get the impression that we are utterly hopeless to see the world affected with the redemptive power of God.

Jesus, however, shows up to remind us that God is present. God is powerful. And God cares enough to rescue us from our momentary trouble.

In this story, Jesus demonstrates:

1. The power of his own walk with God.

This is actually the first time, in the gospel of Matthew, that we find Jesus praying. He gets alone with God before he engages in any kind of ministry of saving the rest of the world.

2. The possibility of peace when he is in our midst.

Peter Marshall once said, “It is Christ or chaos,” and we who follow Jesus believe this to be true. Just as Jesus brought calm to the chaos of nature, so he brings peace to the violence and division of humanity as well.

3. The power of God over all that exists.

The waves? Yes, and so much more. Jesus, the Architect of the universe, is in control.

4. The peace we can find in our worship of him as the Son of God.

It is in worship that our spirits ultimately find that place of quiet confidence we so desperately need.


Photo: Christ and Peter as Christ Walks on Water, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

Recommended Resources

Matthew: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Hare, Douglas R. A. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 348 Pages - 06/29/2009 (Publication Date) - Westminster John Knox Press (Publisher)
Matthew 8-20: A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Hermeneia)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crouch, James E. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 646 Pages - 01/26/2001 (Publication Date) - Fortress Press (Publisher)

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